Jeans: an iconic garment with environmental impact not to be underestimated

Jeans is a garment that has conquered the world, across genders, social classes and cultures. The numbers on its prevalence speak for themselves: about 4.5 BILLION people (half the world’s population) have at least one pair of jeans in their wardrobe! Behind its appeal and unquestionable versatility, however, lies an environmental impact that is anything but negligible. The production of cotton, the raw material of jeans, is a first problem. Thirty-five percent of the world’s production of this fiber is used to make our beloved pants, often with cultivation methods that make extensive use of pesticides and fertilizers, causing significant soil and groundwater pollution. But it didn’t end there. Cotton’s thirst for water is proverbial: a single pair of jeans requires about 10,000 liters, a truly considerable amount.

However, the critical issues related to the denim supply chain do not stop at those just listed. The transformation of cotton into fabric and the subsequent production of denim requires additional processes, including dyeing, which often uses toxic chemicals and generates polluting wastewater. In addition to water and chemicals, there is more. Jeans production requires large amounts of energy, resulting in greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Also not to be overlooked is the transportation of finished garments to consumers around the world, which results in additional environmental impacts.

But the most alarming environmental figure concerns microfibers in jeans. Although cotton is a natural fiber, the study “The Widespread Environmental Footprint of Indigo Denim Microfibers from Blue Jeans” reveals a shocking truth: microfibers derived from jeans do not biodegrade as one might think. These tiny fibers are deposited in natural sediments, creating an environmentally harmful accumulation.

Confirming the above is a Greenpeace investigation that analyzed 21 water samples taken in the Chinese city of Xintang, known as the “denim capital of the world.” The results are alarming: five heavy metals were detected in 17 out of 21 of the samples: cadmium, chromium, mercury, lead and copper. These harmful substances, used to fix indigo dye, are spilled into rivers near textile mills, contaminating water, damaging the marine ecosystem and endangering the health of workers and local communities.

The human cost in addition to the environmental damage

The pollution caused by the denim industry has not only environmental consequences, but also serious health impacts on those working in the industry and people living in areas surrounding the factories. Exposure to heavy metals and toxic chemicals can cause serious health problems, including cancer, respiratory disease and nervous system damage. Thus, behind the bargain price of fast fashion jeans lies a much higher cost, paid by those who produce them and the environment. As with any fast fashion product, jeans often conceal exploitation and unacceptable working conditions. Workers, often in developing countries such as Bangladesh, India and China, are forced to work in unsafe factories for very low wages, without protections and often exposed to harmful chemicals. The use of heavy metals in the production process, as we have already seen, not only pollutes the environment but also endangers the health of workers. Jeans production, especially on a large scale and using unsustainable methods, has devastating environmental and human impacts.

The importance of reuse and recycling

In the face of this disturbing reality, it is essential to take a conscious and responsible attitude. Fashion should not be priced so high. It is time to review our consumption habits and demand a more ethical and environmentally friendly denim industry. Only through collective commitment and a change of mindset can we combine style and sustainability, protecting the planet and everyone’s health. Awareness is the first step. Buying wisely, preferring brands that strive for more sustainable production, using jeans with care, and finally encouraging reuse and recycling, are small gestures that can make a difference. In the face of this troubling reality, SHIFCLOTH is actively working to promote more sustainable and environmentally friendly fashion. As a company that wholesales used and vintage American clothing, SHIFCLOTH offers a viable alternative to fast fashion and its negative impact on the environment.

Dress well, do good: our philosophy

Sustainable fashion is not just a trend, it is a choice of responsibility.

In our company, we believe that fashion can be beautiful and sustainable at the same time. That is why our philosophy is based on three basic pillars:

  • Careful selection: We carefully choose the garments we resell to our customers. We rely only on the best suppliers and buy only high-quality goods.
  • Circular Economy: We promote a circular consumption model, giving value to existing garments and reducing environmental impact.
  • Work ethics: We promote a model based on respect for workers’ conditions.

Together, we can make a difference. Choose SHIFCLOTH and embrace sustainable fashion.

Who we are


In a world where fashion is rapidly changing, we at SHIFT CLOTH are committed to bringing a new perspective to used clothing. We are more than a wholesale company-we are an entity dedicated to reducing waste and environmental impact.

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In a world where fashion is rapidly changing, we at SHIFT CLOTH are committed to bringing a new perspective to used clothing.


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